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Fashion Bras
Style, Adjustment & Comfort


Bra types are Compression Bras (recovery), Comfort Bras (treatment), Fashion Bras (everyday, work and special occasions), Sports Bras (activity) and Lymphoedema Bras (treatment and management).

This section describes Fashion Bra anatomy. See other sections for other bra anatomy descriptions.


Cleavage   The extent of upper breast cover and enclosure. A higher cleavage more fully encapsulates the breast, reducing up and down movement. It also provides more cover when there is upper breast or chest scarring. When a breast form is needed, a higher cleavage covers the insert and reduces any gap between the chest and the top of the breast form when moving about.

Underarm Band   The extent of underarm coverage. A wider underarm band can improve wear comfort and support by distributing pressure more evenly. It can also hold-in underarm tissue and avoid the top of the band sitting across underarm scarring.

Back Band   The extent of back coverage. A wider back band can better contain back tissue, improving support and wear comfort.

Shoulder Strap Width   The width of the strap over the shoulder. A wider strap can improve wear comfort and support by distributing the weight of the breasts across the shoulder.

Shoulder Strap Spacing   Where the strap is likely to sit on the shoulder. As spacing increases, the strap sits further out on the shoulder. Shoulder width also affects where the strap sits on the shoulder. For example, a wider strap spacing on narrower shoulders can mean the strap is more prone to slipping off the shoulder.


Material   A mix of synthetic (elasticised) yarns is typically needed to provide compression. Higher cotton content fabrics can have a reasonable percentage of synthetic yarn.

Underwire   Rigid shaped wires sewn into the underside of the cups to shape and separate the breasts and vertical wire or plastic ‘stays’ sewn into the underarm band to stiffen the band. Research suggests underwires and stays do not significantly increase support but can create lines of pressure that affect lymph flow.

Non-Underwire   A bra cup made without underwires but that may have flexible plastic stays.

Cup Style   Can be used to achieve different outcomes. Soft cups are typically made with two or three panels, have seams and can have more lace. Moulded cups, typically a single heat shaped panel, can create a more seamless shape. Padded cups are typically a moulded cup with an internal pad that adds volume and shape and, being more structured, can balance the breast shape.

Cup Shape   Each cup style can have a range of shapes. If the cup shape is not matched to the shape of the breast, tissue can spill out at the side or above the cup.

Cup Size   The volume of the cup is proportional to the band size. For example, the volume of the cup on a 12C bra is significantly smaller than the volume of the cup on a 22C bra. Hence the fitting rule: if you go up in the band, you go down in the cup to keep the same cup volume as shown in this illustration.

Pocketed Cup   A bra with a layer of material sewn inside the cup to create a pocket to hold a breast form. Pockets do not affect wear with a natural or reconstructed breast.

Band   Material that wraps around the chest, underarm and back to stabilise the bra and support breast weight. If too tight or too narrow the band may concentrate pressure around the chest and affect lymph flow. If too loose the bra is likely to rotate and/or ride up.

Straps   Hold the breast up and into the cup and transfer some breast weight to the shoulder. Types include vertical, racerback and halter neck. The shape of the cup tends to determine where vertical straps sit on the shoulder and whether they are seen inside the neckline of a top. Non-adjustable straps are better fitted for torso length to avoid the band pulling up or the cup sagging.

Fastening   Typically hook-and-eye clips located at the front, the back or front and back. Pull-over bras have no fastening. The number of clips provided for fastening tends to increase with band size. Front fastening can be difficult if arm movement is affected. Closing and fastening front clips requires lifting the breast, pulling both sides together and doing up the clips. A trial is suggested before choosing this type of fastener. Extenders can be fitted to rear clip fasteners if needed.

Adjustment   The number of hook-and-eye clip fastener positions on the band varies by brand and/or bra size. Straps typically have a sliding buckle, with some brands providing dual buckles to reduce slippage.


Free from Harmful Chemicals (Latex)   When the OEKO-TEX Standard 100 Logo is shown on the garment label it indicates that the ‘finished garment’ has been tested and given an OEKO-TEX Certificate. Generic terms such as ‘OEKO-TEX materials’ do not verify ‘chemical free’ status.

Links & Information

STUDIO RANGE Products   Go to Fashion Bras, click on a product to see ‘Style’ and ‘Look & Feel’ information, then click on the ‘Fitter’s Notes’ tab for more product information.

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A corsetiere was a specialist in making and fitting what today are called lingerie and compression garments.

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